A Travellerspoint blog

Day 4 Paris, Mardi 10 Août, 2010 - Remembering Michael

rain 18 °C

We got back to our hotel around 6:30 and then had a bit of a rest until about 7:15 and then we decided we better go find some dinner. We were both quite tired as it had been a busy and hot day. The humidity really drains your energy. The other problem is that if you want to drink lots of liquids you then have to find lots of bathrooms and there are few public toilets so you have to then go to cafes and drink some more. More biere, no problem. Beer tastes best when it is hot out.

We started to walk around in our area and some of the restaurants suggested to us by our tour guide Herbert were closed. The Petit Carnard and Jean Restaurant. The Asian restaurants of course were open but that wasn’t something that we really wanted to go to.

In the end we luckily found a nice Italian restaurant. The Fuxia L'Epicerie. We were quite lucky as the food there turned out to be spectacular. We found a table outside and sat down. Somehow the dining experience is enchanced when you are outside.

We each ordered an entree. Margy ordered the cannelloni and it was homemade pasta with a nice rich sauce and a side salad. I ordered risotto with smoked salmon and arugula. It also had fennel and the portion was generous. I had no problems doing it justice as I was quite hungry and ate it all.

I wanted to eat something special today. It has now been two years since my Michael passed away and Risotto was a favourite of both of ours. He made me amazing homemade risotto on a few occasions. We also sometimes ate it at restauran. Margy and I toasted him with our wine and it all felt good. I wasn’t so sad. I was in Paris afterall and how could one be sad in the city of love. I had really been loved and for that I am blessed. Before dinner was over there was a sudden downpour and everyone quickly scrambled and moved around so as not to get too wet.

We took care of our bill and headed back to our hotel. We really needed to get some rest. We took care of re-arranging all our packing and got everything organized for the morning. I would not have been able to sleep that night if I had left my packing till the morning. By the time the packing was all sorted out it was getting to be about 10:30 pm. I showered and then got back to blogging. Although it is a time commitment and I have way too much to say, by documenting this trip daily, I will be most able to convey how I feel at the time. As time goes on you lose the initial feelings and emotions.

Anyways finally went to sleep at 1:00 am.

Posted by Sydney324 15:11 Archived in France Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 4 Paris, Mardi 10 Août 2010 - Musée Rodin

overcast 20 °C

We got up this morning at 7:15 am, got ourselves organized and went downstairs to have breakfast before heading back to the Varenne Metro station to actually see the Musee Rodin. Breakfast at our hotel was complimentary and comprised of some basic choices, muesli, cornflakes, applesauce, a young thick cheese/yogurt, fruit cocktail, a melba like toast, baguettes, croissants, pain de chocolate and some other pastries. Tea, coffee and orange juice were also available.

We took the Metro at Saint Georges and then transferred at Saint-Lazare to the number 13 line in the direction of Chatillon-Montrouge. Train was really busy as we were on there with all the commuters.

Got off at Varenne at about 8:30 or so and arrived at the Musee Rodin. I stayed in the lineup of which there were already about 6 people ahead of us. Margy went to find a hotel close by at which we were going to be getting picked up from for our trip to Giverny that I had booked earlier with Viator. Our Paris contact for this trip was Paris Vision. They book small tours of 8 people and you travel in a comfortable mini-bus.

We lined up for about 1 hour to get into the Musee Rodin. If we had chosen not to line up first thing in the morning, we could have spent some time waiting in the line up as it appears that they limit the amount of visitors. When we left the museum shortly after 1 pm, we had spent 3 hours at the museum and there was a line up of people outside waiting to get in.

The museum is located where Rodin once had his studio. The mansion that houses some of his works is from the 18th century. There were two buildings. The first was where you entered the museum and appears to be newer. This building had many of Rodin's works as well. He often had more than one version of his sculptures. I don't know if this is common amongst sculptors or just Rodin. Just outside this building are the gardens. Rodin's gardens are quite large and throughout the garden are many statues. I believe they are mostly, if not all bronzes. The most famous of course was the Thinker, le pensevr, and he was the most photographed.

In 2005 there was a pink rose named after Rodin and there were many of these bushes in the garden. The grounds were beautifully kept and there were places to sit throughout. It would be hard for a golf course to find a better lawn than the one at Musee Rodin. There was an unbelievable amount of statues to see and it was mind boggling.

You were not allowed to photograph any of the art in the first building but had permission to do so in the mansion as long as you did not use a flash. The art occupied two floors and it was an immense collection. Have always loved Rodin and love the way he uses hands. There a delicacy to his form. You could expect to feel the warmth of a human hand, if you should slip yours into one of his.

Another one that I really like was The American Athlete. He even did a Guan Yin, which I never knew about. She is the Chinese Goddess of "Mercy and Compassion."

A fun discovery was a painting of Rodin's Thinker done by Edward Munch.

Although I have been fortunate enough to see quite a few pieces by Rodin in the Vancouver Art Gallery, there is nothing that can compare to seeing his work in the City where he lived and on the grounds that he worked. I very happily brushed my fingers over his carved signature on many of his pieces.

Posted by Sydney324 14:49 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 3 Paris, Lundi, Août 9, 2010 - River Cafe

sunny 21 °C

We never did stop back at our hotel before going to our dinner reservations as we simply ran out of time.

I had made reservations for the River Cafe on the Open Table website some months ago. The reviews sounded great and I wanted us to go to some place special. The restaurant was located on a boat docked on the river.

We took the Metro at Abbesses in the direction of Mairie d'Issy and needed to get off at Porte de Versailles where we needed to get onto a tram and then go to the Ponte d'Issy station. It didn't take us that long to get there, about half an hour or so. We got off the Metro and then went up to street level and were right where the tram was located. We had to pay again when we were on the tram and there was a machine for ticket validation right on the tram.

I had never been on a tram before in France and it was another new experience. The tram was fairly new in looks and was painted orange and yellow. Very modern and quiet. Few passengers travelling on it as well. At one time 6 or 8 tram employees boarded but no fare check.

We got to our stop and got off and started to walk to the restaurant. After walking for one very long block, we still didn't see a restaurant and when we called the River Cafe, we found out that we were at the wrong end of the street. We had to turn around. The area was an industrial business area and we saw a large office building belonging to Microsoft. Margy recalled being in this area for a conference at one time with Marc.

We got to the restaurant and it was on the opposite side of the street that we had been travelling. We had completely missed seeing any signage. We had to walk down a fair amount of steps and there was no solid bannister but a thick rope one. The entrance was decorated with lots of foilage, some of which was bamboo and strings of blue lights. As we got to the bottom of the stairs we turned to our left and headed to the restaurant.

River Cafe is a fair sized establishment. Here is the link to their site http://www.lerivercafe.net.

The restaurant is elegant and the staff were most attentive and friendly. Our server was very good. You felt special. The decor was simple and they had several very nice arrangements of white orchids. Although I did smell a fragrance in the air, I did not realize until later in the evening, that the orchids were indeed real. I assume that the humidity of being on the river made the orchids thrive.

We went to sit at a table at the back of the boat/restaurant. We had a canvass umbrella above us as well as a small lamp. I don't recall if the lamp came on later in the evening or not. On our table was a little dish of seasoned mozzarella. I have not tasted such tender mozzarella before. Very delicious.

There was another boat docked behind us and it was aptly named "Better Days". This trip to France would for me be a turning point in my life, and I hope that better days are ahead for me. It was nearly 8 pm before we began to eat, and people in France do dine much later. We each started with bieres. Heineken. Then we both ordered the Formule Entrée/ Plat/ Dessert for 36 €.

My starter was the veal and foie gras pate with morel mushrooms. Margy's was the ravioli. For main courses, I had the sea bream with a zucchini round seasoned with I think bread crumbs and parmesean and Margy had the canard (duck). For dessert I had creme brulee and Margy had the ice cream trio. For me the foie gras was much better than I had anticipated. It was fairly dense and the meat was not finely ground but coarse. Flavour was good and strangely reminded me of a Chinese steamed ground meat dish. Anyways food was good but not outstanding. My creme brulee though was outstanding. It was perfectly creamy and the custard was light and delicate.

We ate our main course with a glass of wine each, mine was a Chablis and dinner for two was 87.06 € plus 7.44 € for a total of 94.50 €. Because we were exhausted and tipsy as well we took a cab back to our hotel which set us back another 27 €. Well worth the cab ride due to where the restaurant was located in relation to the tram station.

Cabs are most certainly not cheap in Paris and your fare starts at 13 €.

Posted by Sydney324 14:02 Archived in France Tagged food Comments (0)

Day 5 Paris and Nice, Mercredi 11 Août 2010

sunny 25 °C
View France on Sydney324's travel map.

We slept in a little later today as we needed it, but not that much. Woke up at 7:30 am, blogged a little more and then we gathered all our things and we headed downstairs to breakfast at about 8:15 or so. I was surprised that I was not so hungry. I had forgotten that at a late hour last night I had eaten a very filling dinner.

We left all our suitcases at the front desk with reception as we were going to go to the Galeries Lafayette and Princesse Tam Tam before heading to the train station to go to Nice. Although we had discussed our activities for the morning the evening before, we forgot that we were going to leave our luggage at the hotel. We actually left the hotel with our luggage, started talking and then realized what our plans were. Silly us. We turned around and then dropped them off at the hotel.

Some of the confusion arose as I had not yet been able to figure out what I wanted to do in the morning. I decided that I wanted to shop, but felt it was best to just stay in our area so that we were not lugging around the suitcases. Fortunately, both stores I wanted to go to were in our area and within close walking distance. I had to decide what I wanted to do and then let Margy know, so that she would figure out our timeline.

Walked to the Galeries Lafayette located at 40, Boulevard Haussmann. I had been told that they are like our Holt Renfrew but cheaper. We were fortunate that the store we went to just happened to be their flagship or main store. It was everything and more. The ceiling was gorgeous. All the glass. The store must have been a museum or art gallery at one time. It was old and regal.

The main floor had parfums, and purses from every famous designer, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Longchamps, Hermes, etc.

Laura, my former co-worker who hails from Ireland had recommended getting a Longchamp bag. I found a beautiful purple one with a dragonfly on it. This was a limited edition bag. I also saw another of their limited edition bags. This one had a cream background with their ceiling in red in one corner of the bag. Very beautiful. Hmm, this would be the bag for me. 67 euro. They also had black and red but currently no stock. I decided to wait as I wasn’t 100% certain. I am like that love bird sitting next to another lovebird declaring that I love him but then if another love bird had come along I might love him too. Inanimate objects though, not

We then went to look at original designer clothes. Some were reasonable, around 50 euro for a t shirt and 200 euro for a blouse. I saw dresses for 115 euros. We didn’t look at that many clothes though as I had decided that when I came to Paris I wanted shoes, a bag and lingerie. Next time I will get some clothes.

We went up to the third floor to see lingerie. This was me in a candy store. Selection, selection, selection. There were many names I was not familiar with and there were many I knew, DKNY, Lejaby, Dior, D & G, Dim, Calvin Klein, Rosy, Chantelle, and the one that turned out to be my favourite, Banana Moon. Pretty and bright and colourful. Right up my alley. I very happily tried them on and made my purchase. They also carried Princesse Tam Tam. I do plan to go to the Princesse Tam Tam store but so far it hasn’t worked out. French lingerie, the crème de la crème.
Galeries Lafayette is a very beautiful store and one thing really surprised me is that they had a McDonalds inside the store. Such a contradiction for such an elegant store. No disrespect Jer but really, McDonalds in a fancy French department store.

While walking back to our hotel, we bought, to eat on the train, a nice curried chicken baguette from Brioche Dorée. They are a chain and have great baguettes at reasonable prices. We paid somewhere between 3 and 4 euros.

We picked up our luggage and bid the desk clerk adieu again. A little bit of a workout as we had to carry our suitcases down the stairs at the Saint Georges Metro. We took the train to Madeline, got off and then transferred to the line going to Olympiades. From there we had to get to Gare de Lyon to board our IDTGV train to Nice. Important to keep your Metro ticket. Although it is only one use when you are travelling in the Metro going from line to line, when you are going from the Metro to the TGV you have to go through two or three turnstiles. You still need to put your ticket in to go through. The doors are large enough for you to bring luggage through. .

After finding and going to the toilet we headed to sit down at a restaurant. To go to the toilet, it cost 50 cents. You put in your money through a slot and walk through a turnstile. There is an attendant there and you walk back out the way you came in. No payment to go out.

At the restaurant, I had to have my arm twisted, actually no I did not, I was very happy to have a beer, yes another as it tastes so good when it is this hot and humid out. While we were sitting in this little restaurant in the train station, three army personnel in army fatigues walked by carrying machine guns. I couldn’t believe that they do this as since I have been in Paris, there has not been a lot of police presence. At least nothing excessive. I have seen police vehicles with their sirens on as they were zipping down the street. But I have not seen any on foot. Perhaps a stronger presence such as this would keep a lot of the crime down in Vancouver.

The train station was quite large and felt very much like you were in an airport. The same types of little restaurants for all sorts of food. Locker area for luggage, information booths, duty free stores and seats to wait on. There were tv screen throughout with the times trains were leaving and from which exit.

The funny thing was that there were pigeons and quite a few of them wandering around eating crumbs and sometimes taking flight for short distances. It was the norm apparently.

We walked through to near the end of the train. When our tickets were purchased we obtained second class ones and the various entrances to the the train was marked either 1 or 2 signifying either 1st or 2nd class. We even had designated seats and each passenger had to have their name listed on the ticket. I thought that this was smart and efficient.

We sat on the bottom row of the train after stowing our suitcases in one of the two fair sized luggage racks at the train’s entrance.

We left at 1:46 pm and would be arriving in Nice around 7:24 pm for a total train trip of just over 5 ½ hours. The trip in the beginning was mostly farmland and not very interesting to watch. I started to blog and before I knew it had to go to sleep as I was dozing off while typing. I slept for about 1 hour and then spent the rest of the time talking to Margy, reading a bit about Nice and reading about Chez Brigitte Guesthouse which is where we would be staying for the first two nights in Nice. After that we were booked at a hostel for our 6 final nights.

Some of the scenery on the train was quite nice. Saw Antibes, Monaco and San Raphael. We also went through quite a few tunnels and saw lots of nice trees as well as homes. I found the trees to be very interesting as there was such a variety. Some were palm, others looked like broccoli and trees back home.

No food on this train for purchase, it was an older one and it also did not have any plugs for computers or anything else. Washroom of course and so basic train.

When we arrived in Nice as soon as we got off the train Margy looked at me and said the air feels like Hawaii. It did as you could feel the heat and humidity right away. While walking back to our hostel from the beach sometime around 10:30 pm a sign showed that the temperature was 25 degrees. Pretty hot for this late at night.

Well, we found Chez Brigitte without any difficulty and we met her little dog Mishma. She has a very nice place and there is a separate toilet, a large sale de bain with tub, sink and this was where her hot water tank and washing machine were located. We had full access to all the cutlery and dishes as well as equipment and fridge, coffeemaker and microwave. We never did use any of it as we were out all day.

Our rooms were clean and a good size. Roomy. Large wardrobe in one corner and hooks on the wall to hang clothes. A chair and small table. We slept in single beds and there were nightstands along with lights on each side of the bed. There was also a carpet between my side of the bed and the window. We talked to our hostess for a bit about which restaurants to go eat at and then we left to go to eat. By this time it was late. About 8:15 pm.
We walked towards the promenade. Nice is very unique. I have never been in a place like it. There was the tropical aspect, the pebbly beach, the promenade that went on forever, the variety of stores such as a large Galeries Lafayette, Virgin Megastore, Mango, H & M, Etam and others. Lots of Asian restaurants, Le Cambodia, Thai restaurants and a funny Chinese one that served dim sum and other items but in a deli format. Gotta check that one out a little closer as it looked interesting. Oh yes, KFC, McDonalds and McDonalds competition, Quick.

At the end of the promenade we walked down some steps to a maze of alleyways. This was Old Nice and the streets wound around and around. Selling dresses, large hats, postcards, souvenirs, cookies and anything and everything. We found our socca place, Lou Pilha Leva and ordered a socca which was the size of a large pizza. She cut off a fair sized portion and gave it to us. We also ordered a piece of pissaladiere which resembles pizza and has onions and an anchovy on it. Very yum. Like socca a lot. It is a chickpea crepe and is the only food item I was able to find that is native to Nice. We had drinks with our dinner, my new favourite drink in this heat is Orangina. I thought the young girl that served us had lots of character. She yelled out quite loudly each order and then as something was ready for a customer she yelled that out too. By the end of the evening she must be speechless.

After finishing our meal we went for a stroll in the area. Checking out various shops and restaurants to see where we might want to eat or shop tomorrow. We got ice cream for dessert at 10:30 pm from Glacier Pinocchio. He did not have a line up whereas the other ice cream place which is famous had a hoard of people. As Margy is the ice cream conneseuire I let her make the decision as to whether we would buy ice cream from here or the other place. The young guy was funny and as he was giving me my change asked me what day it was. I responded Wednesday, Mercredi. He says he doesn’t give change today and laughed and gave me my change. For being such a sweetheart I gave him one of my loonies and Margy explained that it was a dollar coin from Canada. He happily responded that I need to give him back my ice cream as he was going to make me something special. He made me a rose ice cream and that was so nice. He says that he is going to the US next year and will use the money then. I asked him where in the US and he said Washington, DC as his sister lives there.

We looked at a few more restaurants and started to work our way out of the winding streets to get to the promenade and to our hotel. As we walked along the promenade we saw a guy, could have been a woman, as they were wearing a white mask and a gold and blue outfit. He was playing some medieval sounding guitar music. Very haunting.

There was also a group of young boys rollerblading and weaving in and out of small pylons. Very small pylons that were the size of shot glasses.

As we turned left on the promenade there is a large open area that is very festive and fair like. There you will find all sorts of entertainment. You will know that you are in the right area when you look up into the sky and see glowing statues high above the ground of glass men kneeling. They are in different colours, pink, blue and green.
Some of the musicians were singers and there was one creative group of men dressed as South American Indian as well as Native American Indian complete with the headdress.

Got in around 11:30 or so and we both got our showers. Read for a bit. I blogged for that much longer and off we were to sleep.

Posted by Sydney324 10:25 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 3 in Paris, Lundi, Août 9, 2010 - Montmartre

sunny 24 °C

After seeing the Moulin Rouge we started to head towards the Sacre Coeur but before getting there we soaked up all that Montmarte had to offer.

We saw some whimsical works a art. One of a man coming out of a brick wall. Just portions of his body could be viewed as it looked like he was walking out of the wall. We then saw some flowers with 3 dimensional faces.
We saw a store selling reproductions of famous works of art. There you could find Moulin Rouge posters, copies of Degas, Cezanne and other artists. The urge to shop more was strong of course, but the urge to be able to bring it all home was stronger and so I would have to pick and choose what I really wanted to bring back. No worries though, as common sense prevailed and I didn’t buy anything.

A young woman was singing chansons reminiscent of Edith Piaf. She had a lovely voice and a pleasing presence. She was about half way through a song when we sat down at a cafe right where she was singing. Margy ordered a tea and I ordered an Orangina. I was thirsty and needed something with bubbles to quench my thirst. After she finished the song she stopped and walked around with her little woven basket and collected contributions. After collecting some money from the crowd, she continued to sing again. She may have only started to sing again because my friend Margy chatted her up and encouraged her to sing some more.

The cafe that we were sitting at, Le Consulat Restaurant had been visited by Woody Allen when he was filming his movie “I Love You”. The cafe opposite us, La Bonne Franquette had been visited by some well known artists such as Pissaro, Sisley, Degas, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoi, and Monet.

Another neat and practical thing was that the tables at La Bonne Franquette were made from the sides of wine boxes. They were two across and three rows. We also checked out a gallery that sold all sorts of pottery, large and small. We also saw a small vineyard. This was just a sample of the real one but you could see the bunches of grapes hanging off the vines.

The area of Montmarte is one of artists. Artists comprising of musicians, painters, sketch artists and dancers. There was an area in a courtyard full of at least 100 different artists. There were many reproducing more copies of paintings that they already had ready to sell. Some drew caricatures while others did pencil sketches of portraits. The likenesses were quite good. There was an Asian man who did silhouettes of people and I watched as he cut one out. Prices varied but often you could some for several hundred euros. I did see one of the Eiffel Tower that was quite unique and 45 euro. I just wasn’t ready to commit yet as there was so much to see and this was still the start of my trip. There were also restaurants in the middle of the courtyard which was surrounded by artists. The area was full of people and very busy.

Posted by Sydney324 08:41 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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